Prague Linguistic Circle

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Roman Jakobson (1896—1982) Russian-born American linguist

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A discussion group founded in 1926 by a small group of Czech and expatriate Russian linguists, for the purpose of analysing the poetic function of language. The group was chaired by renowned linguist Roman Jakobson, but also numbered amongst its membership Nicolai Troubetzkoy and Jan Mukařovský. Also known as the Prague School, the group survived World War II (though many of its members were forced into exile) but not the rise to power of the Communist Party. It was officially dissolved in 1950, but had in reality already dissipated two years earlier. As a crucial precursor to structuralism, the group worked through a number of ideas taken from Saussure, and created the first effective form of a structuralist linguistics (characterized by a pronounced interest in langue rather than parole). As with its predecessors, Opoyaz and the Moscow Linguistic Circle, from which its membership was in part drawn in any case, the group sought to bring together poetics and linguistics.

Further Reading:

T. Bennett Formalism and Marxism (1979).V. Erlich Russian Formalism: History—Doctrine (1955).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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